Protecting Yourself with the Right Riding Gear

Protecting Yourself with the Right Riding Gear
When it comes to things like playing sports or doing many other physical activities it’s very important to protect yourself from injury so you can continue to play the sports you love. Many people don’t take this into consideration and end up not being able to do their activities because of temporary and sometimes even permanent injuries. When it comes to mountain biking there is more to protecting yourself than just slapping on a helmet and hitting the trails. You need to make sure you have the right equipment and that it’s in working order and fits properly.

The most important piece of safety equipment will be your helmet since it protects your head. This is one area you don’t want to skimp on price or use a damaged piece of equipment. There are many brands of helmets out there with different price points. When making your helmet purchase be sure to get the right type and stick with a well-known brand to avoid buying something that may not do the job. It’s also a good idea to look up reviews to see what other people think of the helmet.

More and more companies are starting to come out with mountain bike specific helmets that offer better coverage for the back of your head since you have a better chance of hitting the back of your head on a mountain bike crash compared to a road bike crash. Also be sure to get one that fits your head properly. Some helmets come in sizes such as small through extra-large while other brands use a head size numbering system like you would find in hats. Most helmets will also come with an adjustment in the back to tighten or loosen the fit around your head.

If you are going to be doing more extreme downhill type riding then you should consider getting a full face helmet which is similar to a motorcycle helmet and wraps around your head and face. These types of helmets offer better protection for your whole head as well as your face in case you fall face first and can’t get your hands out in front of you. They are typically more expensive than standard helmets but well worth the money for the protection they offer.

Another safety item to consider is riding gloves. These offer protection for your hands from things such as the weather, your grips and most importantly, from falls. You can get mountain bike gloves that cover your fingers like a normal glove or that are fingerless which can offer more freedom and are more comfortable in hot weather. These gloves are typically lightweight and have padded palms for comfort and for a better grip.

When it comes to mountain biking it’s always a good idea to protect your eyes from things like dirt, rocks, wind and the sun. If is a sunny day then you can wear your sunglasses and be fine. If you are riding at night or in a dark area such as out in the woods then you may want to consider some goggles with clear or yellow lenses. This way you still get the eye protection from the elements but will be able to see at the same time. Plus many brands of goggles have foam or another material around the frame that helps seal them to your face to keep dirt etc. from coming in from the side.

Going back to the downhill riders who are usually going faster over more technical terrain, you may want to consider body armor when doing your rides. Body armor consists of things such as knee pads, elbow pads and chest protectors. This way if you take a spill you will have a buffer between you and the rocks you may land on. Some pads are hard plastic while others are a softer material which makes it more comfortable to ride with. Chest protectors offer protection for your torso and sometimes shoulders as well.

You may not consider shorts as protective gear but in a way they are. You can get padded mountain bike shorts that have the tight fitting road bike type shorts sewn into them as well as padding material sewn into the inner lining. From the outside they look like regular shorts but give you some padding on your seat which helps if you have a hard seat or are doing a really long ride.

Finally you need to protect your feet when riding as well even though you wouldn’t think that would be too important. It’s very easy to hit your foot on a rock or crush it between a rock and your pedal so having a sturdy shoe is the way to go. There are mountain bike specific shoes that can be used with clipless pedals where the bottom of your shoe clips into the pedal itself. They are called clipless because they don’t have a toe clip like some of the older pedals do even though you still clip into them! Even if you ride with platform or flat pedals you should have a sturdy shoe that won’t bend too much over the top of the pedal. I like to use low cut lightweight hiking boots because they are firm, offer great grip on platform pedals and are good for hiking your bike up hills when you can’t pedal up them.

So before you get on your bike for your next ride, make sure that you have yourself protected with the proper gear for the type of riding you are doing as well as the conditions you are riding in. This way if you take a fall you most likely will be able to get back on your bike and keep on riding… unless that is you break your bike of course!

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